The Icarus Line
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November 4, 2009

Interview with The Icarus Line 2008 (Part 2)

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Here is the second part of my exclusive interview which I conducted with the band when they played at The Old Blue Last last year in London. The interview may be a year out of date, but I guess it’s better to be late than never. You can also take a gander at the first part here. Enjoy!

How do you create your songs?

Jason: Basically Joe comes up with an idea for a song, and then we just kick around with it, and then it turns into something. The idea’s got to come from somewhere. He gives me demo tapes and he’s like “here’s these four or five songs”, and I’m like “that’s cool”. And then he goes “we are going to do THAT one”, and we work on it for a day and we get so far. But lately we have had different drummers…

I know Jeff left. How did his departure affect the band?

Jason: It helps, because he doesn’t have any patience. It’s better now, because when we are working on the songs, we have to think of stuff in terms of bringing them up to a certain standard…

Joe: He doesn’t like taking direction either. He likes to come in when it’s done, and play it then. His departure is always a good thing, because then we can get down to work. We work with whatever drummers are around, bust out the songs… Right now I have about 30 songs, and we have probably worked on close to 18.

Have you ever thought about releasing a ‘B-Sides’ collection or a ‘Best Of’ collection? Even an ‘Unreleased Demos’ collection?

Joe: One day, a B-sides collection. We have a lot of them. We did a lot of BBC sessions and stuff like that. To be honest, there’s just never been a need to do it yet. The new material is so much more important than worrying about archiving all the old songs at this point. We just focus on that…

Jason: The first two songs you heard are just one little part. There are others which give you the spectrum of all three records. There’s a lot of the past, that is also new. Kind of like a new version. It’s still The Icarus Line.

I noticed that you hardly played any of the old stuff, instead choosing to concentrate on new material. Is this a conscientious decision, and are the old songs something you want to walk away from?

Joe: No, it’s just that… that’s just what we are excited about. That’s why it seemed invigorating to you because we are playing new songs that aren’t set in stone and haven’t been documented. So we’re still like… I don’t even have lyrics written for half of them yet. Most of them are free-style.

I was listening to ‘Amputation’. Did you ever mention the word “reputation”?

Joe: Definitely.

That’s obviously a response to what some people have been saying about you?

Joe: Actually… No. I guess it’s relevant, about people who… character assassinate.

How does it feel when lies are spread about the band, and when it is claimed that nobody cares about the band?

Joe: If no-one cared then the room would have been empty last night. I think people genuinely do care. It’s funny because a lot of people who were there last night (at Water Rats) were not newcomers. They were people who have been here the whole time, and they keep coming. That’s awesome.

That’s what I really liked about last night, and to an extent, today. Because the show hasn’t been publicised anywhere. Tonight’s show is a last minute thing…

Joe: Word of mouth.

It’s almost like you guys are doing what Fugazi and Dischord do. Rather than Jubilee having mainstream exposure to get where they are, and with the mainstream not caring, these gigs show that you guys don’t need the mainstream.

Joe: These days the mainstream is so watered down that it doesn’t really appeal to my senses. If we can do it on word of mouth alone, then that is way better than the mainstream press. If people are going to other people and saying “check them out”, outside of the mainstream press, then that is pretty cool.

Plus this is something that I do want to say: that I’d rather have a few friends who have an IQ of 190, than the many friends who have an IQ of 50. You have to know who your target audience is.

Joe: I’m not going to say anything… not because I can’t, but because I have class.

Let the record speak for itself. I think that is why you were so much more stronger than in recent memory, with you guys having something to prove. Does it feel like that for you? As if you have something to prove?

Joe: I always feel that way. I always feel like we have something to prove.

Maybe. But maybe that’s because this era of your lives mean a little bit more to you than what was transpiring three years ago.

Joe: I think we sound better than what we did three years ago. I think the music we are making is more important, and will be remembered longer than the music we did three years ago. I just think we are doing more important work right now. And that’s exciting to all of us.

With MySpace effectively breaking boundaries, and with gatekeepers like MTV no longer being as efficient in keeping out “bad music”, how do you remain relevant especially with all the influx of new bands and music content?

Joe: You just do good shit. As long as you are putting out really good music that matters, the cream will always rise to the top. These days, all you have to be is awesome. If you are the best at what you do, people will take notice.

Going back to that… It must be an exciting time for you as you’re proving yourselves to be completely DIY and completely self-made. You’re not relying on any props or gimmicks in order to secure a fan-base and sell records.

Joe: I think you can see what is going on here.

Jason: We’ve got to do a record and let it speak for itself.

I know that the response for the last record was muted…

Jason (motioning to Joe): Well, you even think the last record was kind of like…

Joe: The last record… We were in a bad place mentally. I like the last record and enjoy listening to it, but we weren’t mentally available to promote it. So we just let it just come out. There was no band. The band kind of dissolved, and then rose back up with a different band that didn’t do the record… So now we have a force to move forward with. We are all like-minded individuals and we all have the same ideals…

This is something that I have noticed, especially on this occasion. Whilst there have always been accusations of The Icarus Line (circa 2008) not really being a “band”, and instead being more along the lines of “Joe and his backing band”, I felt that there was quite a bit of love amongst you guys. It felt like a proper band. It felt organic.

Jason: The team is only as good as its leader. If the quarter-back sucks, then the team is going to do shit. Joe writes great songs and he has the ideas. He lets us have the space to come up with our own parts…

Joe: It’s taken a while for all of us, after all these tours, to have gotten to a place where we know what “The Icarus Line” is. More than anyone who came before and who has ever been in the band. Everyone now knows. We’ve been listening to music, and have been playing music together. We’ve been talking and living together, and we’ve all become really close. This is The Icarus Line.

It feels more like a band in sync, rather than a band comprised of disparate parts where the members are flung together to form a semi-functioning unit. The Icarus Line does feel like a proper band.

Joe: We’re a rock n roll band. That’s what we do.

Anyway, enjoy the show tonight. Thanks a lot.

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